Simulcra, Atari ST

Simulcra is a cool third-person 3D shooter set on a complex series of colourful courses. The game was developed by legendary coding team Graftgold and is one of their least well-known releases, but also one of their best.

Simulcra uses simple 3D polygonal graphics (that were groundbreaking for the time – 1990) and keeps the frame rate fast by having a fairly short draw distance. Which is fine because you can see anything that is in range of you that can shoot back.

The craft you control can drive along the ground and also fly. When you’re driving you can’t fall off the edge of the course, so can move around quickly. When you’re flying you can bridge gaps in the track, but have to be careful because you cannot fly through red walls. Flying around willy nilly is not advisable on most courses. Making short hops is more advisable.

Simulcra has lots of great little touches, like text messages, lock on indicators, enemy missile towers that track you, real time shadows, and colour-cycling skies. The presentation is very stylish, with excellent use of light and colour, and good 3D shapes throughout. Gameplay is solid too. The game rules are good and playing it is not at all frustrating.

At times Simulcra feels like a cross between Virus and Carrier Command. Battles rage, rockets fly and at times it gets quite busy without slowing down.

I would have to put Simulcra up there with the very best Atari ST games of all time, although – truthfully – its longevity is probably limited compared to something like Frontier or EliteSimulcra is definitely a cult classic though – it’s just so beautifully constructed and playable.

More: Simulcra on Wikipedia

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